The other day I was sitting at a coffee shop. It is kind of a mix between a coffee shop and a bagel shop. Because I was only drinking coffee, in my mind I was at a coffee shop. Of course had I been eating bagels, I would have remembered it as a bagel shop. Interesting how the mind works like that. You can remember something, and based on slight change of angular memory, the past can take on a whole new meaning. Meaning is a fairly slippery thing. Many people don’t realize just how slippery it is. I guess that’s why so many people get into arguments about things that happened before. They aren’t really arguing about the events per se, rather the meaning each individual gave to the meanings that they each subjectively applied to the past. Because they each applied a different subjective meaning, or interpretation to the past, they actually stored the memory differently in their brain, from a neuro-chemical standpoint, which gives the illusion that they are remembering different things.
I was listening to a lecture once about this subject. The professor who was speaking was exploring how we code and store events have a large effect on how we remember them. She went on to explain that when some people say they have a “memory problem,” that is not entirely accurate. What they really lack is a storage problem. And because most people don’t consciously choose to store their memories in a certain way, when they go and try to recall them, they not only can’t remember where they put them, but they don’t remember what kind of box they put them in. Which makes looking for old memories a problem when you don’t know what color the box is.
So anyways, I was sitting there, drinking my coffee, waiting for the movie to start. It was one of those international blockbusters that has been heavily marketed, with signs everywhere, and trailers before every movie. I was looking forward to it, because I read the book, and I enjoyed it. I actually read the book twice, by accident. And when I say by accident, I don’t mean that I fell down a flight of stairs and read the book on the way down. I read it, and forgot that I read it. Then a couple years later I read another book by the same author, which I really enjoyed. Then I went to the bookstore to find other books by the same author. That’s how I generally read books, by the way. I’ll read one author, and if I like them, I’ll go to the bookstore or the library and read all their other books. So I went to the bookstore, found another book by the same author of the second book, and picked out the first book, which I’d read before and didn’t remember. Then about halfway through it, I realized, “Hey! This seems familiar, I think I read this before!” Of course I kept on reading, because I wanted to see if it turned out differently than before. Because I didn’t remember how it turned out from before, I wasn’t sure if it was the same ending. Which of course, made sense when I saw the movie, because then, everything fell into place, even though they changed some parts from the book.
So my friend walks in this coffee shop, and has this really confused look on his face. Like he was just finished reading this really confusing article on the Internet or something. I asked him what happened, and he told me that he just got back form a lecture. It turns out some really cute girl gave him a flyer for a lecture that some metaphysicist was giving. He doesn’t normally go into metaphysical lectures, but because this girl was really cute he decided to go. I asked him what the lecture was about, and he tried his best to describe it to me. There were several different lectures, and they kept finishing up where each other started. There was one guy that had this really long beard, and another guy that had some really strange sandals.
He said that most people are walking around in a cloud of ambiguity. Because we are so conditioned to get other people to think for us, when there is nobody there to make a decision, you just kind of walk around with a vague sense of waiting to be told what to do. Which normally isn’t a problem. It makes sense to be this way at work for example. It wouldn’t really be very productive to have a bunch of people at work just doing their own thing, or arguing with the boss whenever she gave you an instruction. I don’t know if this is a leftover from evolution, or if it is something that is just hardwired into us, but the brain will always look for shortcuts in thinking. Kind of like when you are driving on the freeway, and you get a traffic report of an accident up ahead, you can imagine ways to go around the problem, so you don’t be late for your appointment. The brain will always find the easiest path to get to a decision. Which worked pretty good when we were cavemen running around chasing our food, or running away from dinosaurs that thought we were food. But in today’s society, when there are about a billion things coming at you at once, it’s hard sometimes for our monkey brains to make a good decision. So modern man has learned to kind of have this vague cloud of ambiguity floating around, waiting for clear instructions. He said that the two biggest forms of guidance come in the form of social proof, and authority. Social proof, of course, is when you go along with the crowd. Everybody has experienced this. You do something, because everybody else is doing it. Of course, this isn’t what you tell yourself, we always have some other reason why we think we are doing something.
The other shortcut is authority. When a police officer, or a doctor tells you to do something, you rarely question them. Unless you are a criminal of course. So in the absence of these two elements, he explained, it can be hard to figure out what to do.
I asked him if he explained how to get around this, and he said he did. I asked him what it was, and he told me.
The best way to get around this is to have clear, strong, powerful goals. That way you will start to see everything in relation to your goals, and your automatic monkey response will decrease, and your evolved human response will become stronger and stronger, and you turn your mind/body system into a goal-seeking missile, instead of an automatic monkey responder.
And he concluded his speech by saying that the choice is up to you. You can let other people choose your goals for you, and walk around in an ambiguous monkey daze, bouncing from one mental shortcut to the other, or you can choose your own goals, and let your goal seeking mechanism do all work to create the life that you want. Then you can eat bagels, AND drink coffee at the same time.